The Microfinance Support Centre (MSC) has launched a rabbit farming project for the youth of Zirobwe in a colorful ceremony despite the heavy downpour that was characteristic of the early part of the day. The project, which was conceived in 2018, has seen four groups of thirty youth each trained in rabbit farming as a suitable business that can contribute towards food security, wealth and employment creation.
During the launch at the Centre’s newly established rabbit breeding farm in Kabulanaka village-Zirobwe, three youth groups that demonstrated capability and commitment towards the project following a four-month intensive training in rabbit farming and husbandry, received ten does and one buck each as seed capital, in addition to nutritive pellet feeds and cages.
MSC embarked on a rabbit farming project as an affordable enterprise for youth, as majority lack adequate resources to venture into viable businesses. Rabbits are known to require little start-up capital and less labor compared to other animals as they eat easily available food such as grass and vegetables; and bring quicker financial returns due to their high reproductive rate. Rabbit meat is gastronomically considered the best white meat on account of its high nutrition value. It is low in cholesterol, saturated fats and sodium; and high in protein which explains its increasing demand, both regionally and internationally. Their by-products such as the skin, urine and droppings can be used for making gloves, in the manufacture of insect repellants and as manure, respectively.
Over the years, MSC has incorporated services beyond its lending function to actively contribute solutions to social problems, especially youth unemployment. A 2018 report by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) revealed that over one million youth, aged 15-29, in Uganda are idle. The report added that female youth were three times idler than their male counterparts; and that the number was higher in urban areas compared to rural areas, with the rate of idleness among youth in central region standing at 17%. Such findings have informed MSC’s strategies and actions aimed at increasing productivity and household income for livelihood enhancement.
Beyond providing seed capital, MSC has created linkages with a client company, Bendito Mixed Farm that specializes in rabbit value addition, for the youth to access markets once they mature. John Peter Mujuni, MSC’s Executive Director, said plans are underway to set up similar demonstration farms across the country to train more youth and create awareness about the benefits of rabbit farming. “We believe that the project has immense potential to tackle the challenge of youth unemployment and impart practical skills to enable them become entrepreneurs and attract a sustained stream of income.”
Dr. Kisamba-Mugerwa, who was the guest of honor at the event, was happy with the project, adding that MSC was aligning its strategies more with Government’s overall goal of poverty alleviation at the grass-root level. He urged the youth to take the enterprise seriously and encourage fellow youth to join them or even start other businesses, and pledged that MSC will be there to offer the necessary financial and skills development support.
Through a sustained expansion program, the centre’s leadership deems that the project has the potential to emerge as a major producer of rabbit meat for the local and international market.